The papers of New York painter and art instructor, William Merritt Chase, measure 0.5 linear feet and date from circa 1890 to 1964. Papers include a resolution of the Art Club of Philadelphia on Chase's death, letters, writings by Chase consisting of typescripts of lectures and lecture notes, blank postcards primarily depicting reproductions of artwork, a scrapbook, and photographs of Chase, his family, homes, and studios, and photographs of works of art.
Letters include a photocopy of a 1901 letter signed by 28 students of the Shinnecock Summer School thanking Chase for a painting; a 1903 postcard to Mr. Harold R. Shiffer from his aunt; a 1912 letter to Chase signed by 32 pupils of the Art Students League thanking him for his efforts on their behalf and acknowledging his "qualities of sympathy, interest, and an understanding of our individual needs;" a 1915 note from an unidentified writer; a 1920 letter to Chase's wife Alice, from Gertrude Abbey, wife of Edwin Austin Abbey, referencing a tile possibly created by Edwin Abbey that Mrs. Chase owns; a 1935 postcard to Chase's daughter Helen from an unidentified writer; and a 1964 letter to Helen Storm from Ala Story in which Story describes a Chase exhibition that he is organizing and apologizes for having given a sketchbook of drawings owned by Helen to the Morgan Library.
Writings include 4 sets of lecture notes (one labeled as being notes for a lecture at Shinnecock), which are a combination of annotated typescripts and handwritten pages, and a typescript of a 1906 "Talk on the Old Masters by Mr. Chase" for the New York School of Art. Also found is a notebook with handwriten notes on a talk Chase gave to students in Philadelphia, presumably at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
Writings by others consist of a six-page typescript entitled "Reminiscences of a Student," by F. Usher De Voll, describing his experiences of Chase as a teacher.
Postcards (blank) include 3 reproductions of works of art by Chase, 8 reproductions of works of art by other artists, and 2 scenic views.
A Chase family scrapbook consists of mounted prints, primarily cyanotypes, that document Chase's travels to Rome, Milan, Gibraltar and the Loire Valley, and visits to major monuments, and also includes images of Chase and his family at leisure during their travels, as well as five family portraits.
Photographs of the Chase family include one of Chase with his son, Dana, and one of Chase with his wife, Alice, both undated. Other family members and friends are generally unidentified but do include Virginia Gerson and possibly Alice Gerson. Also found are four portraits of Chase, four photographs of Chase in his studio, a copy print of students at the Shinnecock Art School in circa 1895, and a copy print of an 1880 Tile Club trip up the Hudson River. In addition to circa 1960 copy prints, photographs include a variety of vintage prints such as albumen cabinet cards, silver gelatin prints, and a tintype.
William Merritt Chase papers, circa 1890-1964. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
The collection was digitized in 2014 and is available via the Archives of American Art's website.
Microfilm reels N69-115, N69-119, and N69-137 containing papers lent for microfilming are available at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.
Location of Originals:
Material on reels N69-115, N69-119, and reel N69-137 (except speeches and lectures) Originals returned to the lenders after microfilming.
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Also in the Archives are materials loaned for microfilming by Robert S. Chase and Chapellier Galleries in 1969, including an additional family scrapbook, undated, (reel N69-115) containing photographs of Chase, his wife and children, a notice of sale of the Chase house in Shinnecock Hills, N.Y. designed by Stanford White, and photographs of the house. On reel N69-119 are circa 200 photographs of Chase at work, his wife, his studios in Philadelphia and on 5th Avenue and 10th Street New York City, and numerous snapshots of characters in a tableau vivent that include his family, friends, Mary S. Moore Cross, and others. Reel N69-137 contains letters from Chase to his wife during his travels abroad, one letter received from John Singer Sargent requesting the use of Chase's studio for the famous party Sargent gave for Isabella Stewart Gardner in 1890, and a six-page typescript, "Reminiscences of a Student. by F. Usher De Voll, and photographs of Chase's studio.
William Merritt Chase (1849-1916) was a painter and instructor in New York, New York. and Shinnecock, Long Island. Chase taught at the Art Students League until 1896 and at the Shinnecock Hills Summer Art School from 1891-1896, and lived in a house there designed by Stanford White.
The papers were received in a series of accessions between 1969 and 2010: the lectures and speeches, a 1912 letter, and photocopies of a dinner menu and photos of artwork were donated by Roger Storm, widower of Chase's daughter Helen, in 1969; photographic copy prints of Chase's summer home, studio and art school were donated by art collector Fred D. Bentley in 1986; and 2 letters, 2 postcards, the Chase family scrapbook, vintage photographs and blank postcards were donated in 2010 by D. Frederick Baker, author of the Chase catalogue raisonné. Baker received the material from Chase's estate via Chase's grandson, Jackson Case Storm.
This site provides access to the papers of William Merritt Chase in the Archives of American Art that were digitized in 2014, and total 200 images.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001